Sleep deprivation among kids likely to trigger behavioural problems

London, April 28 (Inditop) Sleep deprivation among children is likely to trigger behavioural problems, including symptoms similar to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.

ADHD which afflicts boys, is characterized by a very short attention span, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

During recent decades, sleep duration has decreased in many countries. In fact, in the US a third of children are estimated to suffer from inadequate sleep.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the National Institute of Health and Welfare, Finland, examined whether decreased sleep leads to behavioural problems similar to those exhibited by children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The study relied on 280 healthy children (146 girls and 134 boys). Researchers tracked the children’s sleep using parental reporting as well as actigraphs, or devices worn on the wrist to monitor sleep.

The children whose average sleep duration as measured by actigraphs was shorter than 7.7 hours had a higher hyperactivity and impulsivity score and a higher ADHD total score. But those whose average sleep duration was less than 7.7 hours had a similar inattention score than those sleeping for a longer time, said a Helsinki University release.

“We were able to show that short sleep duration and sleeping difficulties are related to behavioural symptoms of ADHD,” said Julia Paavonen, researcher and clinician.

“The findings suggest that maintaining adequate sleep schedules among children is likely to be important in preventing behavioural symptoms,” added Paavonen.